The Love Game

“I’m going to tell you a true love story because it’s wrong to fill little girl’s heads with fairytales. No one filled my head with them or told me anything about love and happy ever afters and still it ruined me. You have to be real careful Norah, never trust anyone okay? Maybe Cinderella existed a hundred years ago, but she couldn’t have today because this world’s gotten too ugly for real love and kindness. You may think that you’ve fallen in love but then sooner or later everything you know will be turned upside down and before you know it you’re alone. That’s why I’m going to tell you a real true life, love story. Because trust me baby, it doesn’t get any better than this.” By now I’m so into it and the memories are slamming back into my mind so fast I don’t even stop to see if she’s awake I just carry on. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. She lived in a big house and had all the things money could buy, and yet she still felt empty. She would escape her castle at any chance she got and ran around the wrong side of town doing all the things her mother and father would hate. She was well known because she was so reckless and uncaring that she always succeeded in her crimes. This all changed though of course when she met her prince. Her name was... Kaylee.”

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1. Into my trap

Norah stubbornly pulls on the sleeve of my shirt and I resist the urge to slap her little chubby, grubby hands away.

 

“Tell me a princess story pleeease! You promised me Auntie Kay! Pleeease!” Her voice reaches fever pitch and I know I won’t be able to hold out much longer. I take one long drag on my cigarette, roll my head back and close my eyes as I exhale. I’m wishing that I’m anyway but here, that this girl beside me doesn’t exist and that I could erase the past six years of my life. But wishing won’t get me anyway and Norah keeps tugging.

 

“Alright, alright you ragamuffin,” I grunt squeezing in beside her on the narrow cot trying not to wince at the dirt and cobwebs surrounding her makeshift bed. I’m proud at how I’ve managed to learn to censor my words around her. Three years ago I would have used a lot less kinder euphemism. But I’m learning, always learning and changing, slowly rebuilding my life around the huge mess I’ve made of it.

 

“Tell me a new one Kaylee?” she yawns as she snuggles beside me, once she’s satisfied that she’s going to get what she wants.

 

I take one last drag before snuffing out the cigarette and sweeping it under her bed. All around us are similar wooden beds, slowing filling with similar small bodies of abandoned children that make up William’s Street Foster Home. I try not to sigh because I know that this is as good as it gets for some. It’s the 14th of February; Valentine’s day and somehow it means I’m suddenly full of memories of last year’s Valentine’s Day and suddenly the only story I can think to tell is the truth. It’s late, and if Mrs Pipe comes in and catches me here she’ll be mighty pissed but suddenly the urge is overwhelming. I swallow and stroke Norah’s thin mousy hair as I clear my throat. “Okay I tell you a princess story, but it’s going to be a real one okay?”

 

She nods beside me, rubbing her eyes as she smiles sleepily up at me. She probably doesn’t have a clue what I’m saying, and yet I can’t stop now. “I’m going to tell you a true love story because it’s wrong to fill little girl’s heads with fairytales. No one filled my head with them or told me anything about love and happy ever afters and still it ruined me. You have to be real careful Norah, never trust anyone okay? Maybe Cinderella existed a hundred years ago, but she couldn’t have today because this world’s gotten too ugly for real love and kindness. You may think that you’ve fallen in love but then sooner or later everything you know will be turned upside down and before you know it you’re alone. That’s why I’m going to tell you a real true life, love story. Because trust me baby, it doesn’t get any better than this.” By now I’m so into it and the memories are slamming back into my mind so fast I don’t even stop to see if she’s awake I just carry on. “Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. She lived in a big house and had all the things money could buy, and yet she still felt empty. She would escape her castle at any chance she got and ran around the wrong side of town doing all the things her mother and father would hate. She was well known because she was so reckless and uncaring that she always succeeded in her crimes. This all changed though of course when she met her prince. Her name was, Kaylee....

 

It was almost sheer insanity that drove Chase too the club that night. His stomach still ached from the pounding he had taken five minutes earlier, his own blood clogging up in his fingernails, but he had nowhere else to go, and despite everything his father had threatened, the bouncer was still too afraid to not let the son of the club’s owner through. He inhaled deeply and stepped through the doors, only to be swallowed up by an automatic bubble of loud music and smoke. Two dealer girls that looked like they could be anywhere from thirteen to seventeen glided up beside him and were waving green pills in his face. The lights changed and it only took one menacing stare of Chase’s bloodshot eyes to shoo them away. He sulked towards the private rooms feeling almost desperate for some kind of release from the anger and pain he felt. He had his wrists ready and his thumb on the double inched blade in his pocket when he saw her.

 

She was just another face in the crowd, dressed to kill with a simple black dress that just managed to cover her in all the wrong places and matching long hair that hung freely down her back. It must have been the way she was dancing that caught his attention – slowly, as if she was moving to another whole slow type of magical beat together. Or was it the way she was smiling, - her eyes lasering an imaginary line connected to his own. He smiled crookedly to himself as he stepped toward the dance floor, totally drawn in by her hypnotic stare. His eyes never left hers as they moved slowly towards each other, neither saying a word. Hell, he must have looked a mess, only having been beaten to a pulp so many minutes earlier, but one glance into her milky blue glare and he forgot everything.

 

He wrapped his arms around her waist, not surprised at all when she didn’t protest. Instead she only pulled him closer.

 

“You’ve never been so used as I’m using you, abusing you my little decoy,” and Chase held her tighter but the music was so loud he could feel it pulsating through his skin and her words were lost to the sound. Then, he had figured it didn’t mean anything anyway, just words said at the heat of the moment. If only he knew how wrong he had been.

 

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